Steeping a savory cheese rind in a soup's broth infuses cheesy, salty accents throughout. Cooking your own beans is simple if you've planned ahead, though you can rinse and drain canned ones for a higher-sodium result. Serve with salt-free crackers or toasted baguette slices.
1 pound dried Great Northern beans
2 applewood-smoked bacon slices
2 cups chopped onion (2 medium)
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
1 (2-ounce) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
How to Make It
Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours. Drain.
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds.
Add beans, broth, 2 cups water, thyme, rosemary, and kale to pan; bring to a boil. Add rind to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Remove from heat; discard rind. Stir in juice.Garnish each serving with about 3/4 teaspoon bacon. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 11/2 cups soup).
Wine note: With a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind and rosemary, this stew has a very Tuscan vibe. One of the region's juicier reds, like Melini San Lorenzo Chianti 2007 ($12), with its tart cherry and juicy red raspberry fruit and modest tannin, allows this lean dish to shine, while the generous acidity punches up the flavors in lieu of excess salt. —Jeffery Lindenmuth